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Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Posted by bumble_doodle Z5 CT (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 9:30

This past weekend I stopped in to buy some seeds at what used to be "the oldest continuous running seed store in the country". As I stood in line I was amazed at the quantity of seeds people were buying. Most sales averaged ~$75.00 with one gentleman cashing out with a whopping $170+ worth of seeds.

My purchase, some seed potatoes, onions and a few packets of herb seed came in at $20 and I've probably spent another $10-$20 elsewhere as I still have seeds left over from past years. My garden is on the small side and feeds two people.

So, is this typical or was I in line with most of the local farmers? Maybe the $170 guy was starting from scratch? Would all the young couples in line have access to the acreage needed to plant such large gardens? I guess it's possible.

I was just wondering if anyone would be willing to share their average cost of seeds each year in relation to the size of the garden? No startup costs, just an average of what you spend assuming you will have access to seeds from prior years. Do you grow flowers too, or strictly veggies/fruits?

I must say I was pretty impressed to see so many people taking an interest in growing their own food!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

$75 doesn't seem excessive to me. Especially not if you are one who practices a variety of preservation methods versus growing only for fresh eating. Figure about $3.50 per packet, that's 21 packets. Around 10-15 different veggies if you figure lots of those are multiple choices for succession ripening or other considerations (like 2 types of lettuce, 2 types of sweet corn, 3 types of tomato).

I have about 1500 sq ft of growing space (almost as much again for the paths), and three good seasons of growing. Not all of that space is in use constantly, and potatoes and garlic don't come from seeds, about 1/5 current use for those. And with that in mind, I tend to reorder some seeds every year, some every other year, and a few last a long time or are started from saved seed. I actually don't do as much preserving as all that would imply, at least 1/3 (and continuing to increase) of crops in the garden get sent to the restaurant, but it is similar in size to what my parents maintain and they preserve a lot more, so I think it is a fair indicator.

A typical garden for me will include 20-30 different vegetables with multiple cultivars of certain ones as mentioned before. Cheers!


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Are you talking about Comstock, Ferre & Co. in CN? Owned and operated by Baker Creek Seed Co.

If so then I will speculate that at least 50% of the sales were a result of the ambiance created there and the very effective, if not entirely accurate, marketing methods associated with Baker Creek - we sell only open-pollinated, pure and natural, and non-GMO seeds.. IMO Jere Gettle is a master at marketing and knowing just when and how to capitalize on the public's misunderstandings and concerns about organic gardening, GMO seeds, and the qualities of heirlooms vs. hybrids.

That said, I grow both vegetables and flowers for commercial plant selling as well as for our own large gardens. We are a family operation. We focus on spring planting season only for sales, are organic for the most part but not certified organic growers, and have a full fridge of self-saved and previously-purchased seed packets. So we average $50 - 75 dollars a year in fresh seeds and some new-to-us varieties. That total includes shipping costs.

If I had to replace my entire stock for some reason I could see myself spending $200-300 but I wouldn't pay Baker Creek prices for them when they are available elsewhere for less.

JMO

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I spent roughly $180 on heirloom seeds my first year, and guess what, yep your right, I purchased them from bakers creek! My thought is that I could save all my seeds and not have to buy any more seeds! I think bakers creek is a fair price, I had nearly 100% germination and they give you hundreds of seeds, with hundreds of varieties!

Dave you mentioned you wouldn't buy bakers creek seeds, you could get the same seeds cheaper, where are they cheaper? I looked around for quite some time and bakers creek is top on the reviews/my experience...

Thanks,
Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Interesting to read other's thoughts & experiences!

Some people had upward of 50 packets so I as much as I was surprised at the overall cost, I was also amazed at the QUANTITY of seeds being purchased.

Yes, Dave, I was referring to Comstock Ferre in Old Wethersfield CT. I used to stop in before Baker Creek bought them and I have to admit the place has come a long way. Lots of seminars, handcrafted gift/garden items and even a mini-museum of old equipment found in the barns on the property. Hard to believe it survived after all these years. Once you step through the door it's like walking back in time - although a modern cash register would be appreciated. :)

I buy seeds from BC, Hart's (another CT seed co), the 40% off discount Burpee rack at Ocean State Job Lot and occasionally a big box store. If I see something that catches my eye I'll usually pick it up.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

No, to be clear, I didn't say I wouldn't buy Baker Creek Seeds. I said I wouldn't pay BC prices for them [the seeds] when they are available elsewhere for less.

And there are many places - literally 100's of them - where common variety seeds are cheaper - both hybrids and open-pollinated. To name just a few - Harris, Parks, Jung, Gurney's, Shumway, Eagles, Tomatofest, Tomato Growers Supply, Vermont Bean and Seed, SSE, Territorial, High Mowing, Vesseys, Seeds of Change, etc. It all depends on what seed you are looking for.

But then I don't buy into all the marketing hype either. Many so-called "heirloom seeds" are not actually heirlooms, they are simply open-pollinated varieties available elsewhere.

And the misleading, "organic seed only" and "non-GMO" stuff BC advertises, the marketing hype that it is, has been discussed here in great detail. I find it to be a dis-service to most home gardeners since all seed is organic unless treated with a fungicide (and they are labeled as such) and you can't buy GMO seeds anyway.

So while BC offers a few varieties that I have never been able to find anywhere else and IF I absolutely HAD to have that variety for some unknown reason, I would buy from them.

Otherwise it is a great example of a showplace for gardeners (which most never see) with a really top-notch catalog (which most have no need for) and some inspired Madison Avenue marketing.

As I said - JMO. Your preferences may vary.

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Isn't a seed either heirloom or not? Isn't it illegal to claim it's heirloom when it's not? Maybe it's the vast definition of heirloom is where they trick you or?


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Heirloom has been highjacked to invest seeds and veggies with a magical aura of cool. it is not a 'legal' term - there is no law that I know of that regulates the use of the word. What it's come to mean is any open pollinated (non-hybrid) variety. As Dave says, it's a great branding tool to sell product. There are certainly legitimate heirloom varieties out there, and I'd be happy to grow them. But there are also many heirloom varieties that no one grows now for a reason - they suck. And as such, a new, good hybrid is better than an old, $hitty heirloom.

Regarding seed - I'm a small timer. Thirty dollars for the year is plenty for me. And I rarely pay more than $2.50 for a pack of seeds. The idea just bothers me - I'm a cheapskate. This year I filled up on Pinetree and the 40% off Burpee display at Ocean State Job Lot.

I'm one of those gardeners who actually thinks about the cost of each tomato and green bean, as compared to the supermarket. If I don't think I can at least break even, I don't spend the money.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Isn't a seed either heirloom or not? Isn't it illegal to claim it's heirloom when it's not?

Not at all. That is a common mis-perception and often comes up for discussion, especially on the Growing Tomato forum and the Heirloom Forum Here..

Heirloom has a very specific definition when it comes to garden seeds - at least 50 years of age and has the family history, the documentation (the provenance) to support that label. But there are no laws on the use of the term and no heirloom police that enforce them so it is commonly used as a marketing label even if not justified.

Some open-pollinated varieties are heirlooms and they can prove it. But most open-pollinated varieties do not meet the criteria to be truly labeled heirloom. It is just a label a seed company slaps on it to increase sales given the recent surge in interest in them.

Why would seed buyers believe everything a seed company says any more than they would believe everything any other company ad says about their product? It's like that Geico ad on TV where the girl says "because they can't put anything on the internet that isn't true". Advertisers can't say anything that isn't true. Yeah, right. :)

Buyers have to understand the difference (same with the term "organic") and do their homework to insure that what they are buying is an actual heirloom.

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I got you.. Now what's confusing is: open pollinated heirloom... Let's say you have two differen varieties of "heirloom" tomatoes... If they are open pollinated wouldn't that produce a hybrid of the two? Why do people protect their blossums from foreign pollen if you can "open pollinate" heirlooms? For that matter what the hell does open pollinated even mean? So much conflicting information out there that it's not just "do your homework" and buy... It's dig through the propaganda bull$hit I researched this and still don't quite understand.

Thanks,
Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Honestly it isn't all that difficult and only becomes an issue if you are saving seed - which the majority of gardeners don't do. What it all boils down to is having at least a basic understanding of the particular vegetable you are growing. You'd be amazed at how many have none whatsoever and then wonder why it didn't grow.

But if you are saving seed then you grow open-pollinated varieties - a variety which consistently breeds true from the seed it produces - not hybrids.

Then you have to know which vegetables are self-pollinating (ie. tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, leafy greens) and which are not (ie. some classes of squash, melons, cukes, corn etc.)

Cross pollination isn't all that much of an issue with self-pollinating vegetables but no, you are not creating a hybrid, just a possible cross. And the amount of crossing is minimum, estimated at less than 5%.

With insect and wind vectored pollination (non-self-pollinating) the odds are much greater of course. In those cases you have to bag blooms, isolate varieties or restrict the number of different varieties grown each season to prevent crossing,

Obviously this is over-simplified as it doesn't begin to address the genetics of OPs vs. hybrids, why OP genes tend to be more stable and dominant vs. recessive and unstable in hybrids, etc. but that is a whole other discussion or 2. :)

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

An open pollinated plant would have to be carrying dominant traits that breed true. What is generally called a F1 hybrid is a plant that is carrying dominant and non dominant traits so that the traits you see in the plant will not be exhibited in most of the seed produced by that plant even if the only pollen it recieved came from itself (same genetic material). More or less.

It's a little confusing since highschool bio generally only deals with the idea of 1 gene, 1 trait and reality is many genes, many traits, multiple genes for one trait, multiple traits influenced by one gene, and blending of genes for some traits. So these terms aren't being quite used the same way, but kind of. Better? :)

(Why the heck isn't it spelled "pollenated" since it is "pollen"?)


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 18:24

It should be pollen that is spelled pollin. The Latin word has an i. In my view, people who start gardening will always waste a lot of money. It happened to me. They don't know how to preserve seeds, they don't plant them right. They don't know what they will like, so they buy a packet to plant three plants of one type. There is no local authority to go to for advice. Surely an Extension office will not advise you on what to grow in acid, sandy soil as opposed to alkaline clay. And besides, in CT there are a lot of people with disposable income. Then they buy bags of compost, they will fork money for prefab designer beds, and allocate no money for a fence or drip irrigation (fortunately, I was inefficient only with seeds early on). Splurging on seeds is just the tip of the iceberg.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Open pollination is pollination by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms, and contrasts with cleistogamy, closed pollination, which is one of the many types of self pollination.[1] Open pollination also contrasts with controlled pollination, which is controlled so that all seeds of a crop are descended from parents with known traits, and are therefore more likely to have the desired traits.

The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those
plants; however, because breeding is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, open pollination may result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Open pollination may increase biodiversity.

So why would you want open pollinated plants if you wanted to save seed?
You really want controlled pollination, correct?


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Geez! I just spend 20 bucks on Baker Creek seeds! It was quite a enticing catalog. Didn't realize I was being schmoozled.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I spent 180 bucks my friend! I don think we are being fooled, they should breed true but I am trying to wrap my head around this...

By the way, Zack check the herbalism forum of your "alergies" ingot some great advice for you!

Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

At least Baker Creek sources quality seeds. You can be rather sure they're fresh, good germination rates, and you're not going to get a "this isn't what it's supposed to be" seed source. They're good about replacements if you're not satisfied or you screw up your germination.

BC is marketing/image effective, but it's more of an appealing type marketing rather than a sly/shyster marketing approach...plus it seems they "walk the talk" rather than just creating an image for people to buy into.

You can find the seed cheaper if you look around (not hard for OP/heirloom types).

This post was edited by nc-crn on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 19:19


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

No doubt bakers creek seed is quality, I had near 100% germination... They are great people! You guys got me thinking... My question is how do they get their seeds to breed "true" if they are open pollinated?

Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Open pollination is pollination by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms, and contrasts with cleistogamy, closed pollination, which is one of the many types of self pollination.[1] Open pollination also contrasts with controlled pollination, which is controlled so that all seeds of a crop are descended from parents with known traits, and are therefore more likely to have the desired traits.
The seeds of open-pollinated plants will produce new generations of those
plants; however, because breeding is uncontrolled and the pollen (male parent) source is unknown, open pollination may result in plants that vary widely in genetic traits. Open pollination may increase biodiversity.

Where is all this taken from? The source? It is incomplete and out of context.

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Wikipedia


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I'm sorry I left that most important paragraph out:

Some plants (such as many crops) are primarily self pollenizing and also breed true, so that even under open pollination conditions the next generation will be (almost) the same. Even among true breeding organisms, some variation due to genetic recombination or to mutation can produce a few "off types".

I still don't understand how self pollinating plants will produce true to type,even if there are several different varieties right next to it...


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

BC is a great company and I wouldn't second guess buying seed from them. I don't think that's what Dave is meaning. There are plenty of seed resources out there, and realistically in most cases a Black Krim here is a Black Krim there. (read-most cases). BC does charge on the higher end of the price range, and if you feel from this season on you will religiously save seed from those plants, then 50-100 to even 200 bucks is not a bad investment that could last years and years.

I am a seed splurger too! I spent in 2011 $130 on seeds from Johnny's seeds. I have since learned to become part of the seed community and trade. However, I still could EASILY dump another $200. Fact of the matter is, I want a lot of different varieties. To top it off, the 130 I bought before really didn't leave me with a lot. Most of all its hybrids. Still good seed, still using it today, but I can't invest it like I could have BC seed.

I do fully agree with Dave however, BC has found a good comfy spot in the middle of the No-GMO, all Heirloom hype made a nest and is calling it home! And good for them! They are still a business and one that needs to survive.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Wikipedia. I found it. You need to indicate that when quoting something though you might want to try some more reputable sources

First, please understand that this isn't new information. New to you perhaps but well documented nevertheless. So please don't get hung up on semantics or abstract definitions out of this context. That only confuses you more.

Second, Wiki's definition is for pollination, not for Open-pollinated as stated there. "Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant by insects, birds, wind, or other natural mechanisms." (wordnetweb.princeton)

Thus open-pollinated vegetable seeds are varieties that have proven that, due to their dominant stable genetics, they will consistently produce the same variety from the seeds they produce IF they are not exposed to cross-pollination.

That "natural mechanism" in self-pollinating plants is that the bloom contains both the anther and the stigma and there is direct pollen transfer from one to the other within the bloom it itself, often long before the bloom even opens. So with self-pollinating OP plants cross pollination is minimal since the bloom is already pollinated before or as it opens. Once pollinated it cannot be re-pollinated so from that point on wind or insects have no effect on the genetics.

With non-self-pollinating plants the stigma and the anther are in separate blooms so pollination happens by insects or wind or by hand and the grower has to block cross pollination to insure seed purity.

The ways in which BC and any of the rest of us (and you if you wish to save seeds) grow OP varieties that are NOT self-pollinating and save seed and insure purity is, as I said above, bagging blooms, crop separation, and crop isolation and/or hand pollination. Standard practices.

I did not say your seeds from BC would not breed true. So please do not take my comments out of context. Most of them will although you may get 1 or 2 crossed seeds in a packet. That is fairly standard regardless of the seed source. What I said was they were not necessarily "heirlooms" even though labeled as such.

Since BC does not sell hybrids but as they advertise "We only offer open-pollinated seeds: Pure, natural, and non-GMO." then the seeds you bought will breed as true as those from any other open-pollinated seed source. Whether the seeds you save from them will do the same all depends on you..

All of us who grow open-pollinated self-pollinating vegetables recognize that crossing cannot be 100% controlled/prevented without extreme care. For most that 95% seed purity is sufficient. If you want 100% you will have to bag blooms and there is FAQ here on how to do it.

All those of us who regularly grow OP non-self-pollinating seeds recognize that we have to practice bloom bagging and hand pollination or crop isolation to insure our seed purity.

I hope this clarifies the issue.

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Thanks for clearing that up Dave, you are the man!

Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I dont even stop to look at the seed displays or catalogs any more. I have more seed than I'll be able to plant in my lifetime. That includes veggies and flowers. We have about 1000 sq ft of veggie beds and will add a few more raised beds this year.
The majority of my seed have come from trades and seed I harvest. The variety is more than adequate (for me).
Peas-5 var
Beans-12 var
Herbs-26 var
Greens-25 var
Squash-11 var
Melon-8 var
Eggplant-10 var
Corn-9 var
Tomato-89 var
Peppers-53 var
Pumpkin, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, parsnips, okra, leeks, kohlrabi, rutabaga, etc.
Flowers-over 200 var
I spent less than $10 in trades this year. I share seeds with several young neighbors who are just starting out in gardening.
My cup runneth over :)


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

re: trades...

I try to be a soft-handed with this advice given how much seed I've gotten in trade from here...but...

Based on some diseased seed I've gotten in the past (including from here)...and other issues I've seen people post about (including a lot of Ebay seed), I highly suggest cleaning/disinfecting your seed appropriately before planting them unless you know you're sourcing them from a reputable dealer. Even some "well known" non-major-dealer seed sellers on the internet shouldn't legally be selling some of the seed they source and while most is disease-free, some isn't. All of the major dealers (Johnnys, Burpee, etc) can be assumed trustworthy in this department.

Some people use hydrogen peroxide. Some people (like me) use bleach/water. Some people use other methods. Either way, I suggest you clean your seed unless it comes from a known/reliable seed seller.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Wow. I really didn't expect this thread to go in this direction. Obviously people are passionate (read:stubborn) regarding their methods of acquiring seeds! To each their own, I say.

Although I do find the conversation educational, it was not my intent to turn it into a BC thread. My bad. I should have left that out entirely.

Oh, and Glib - Perhaps I should buy you a clue with all of my "disposable income"... :)


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Hey Bumble you didn't do it. I started it off track although i didn't expect it to turn into a runaway train.

For that my apologies to you.

Dave


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 10:49

OP, I appreciate that you don't have it, but my statement about CT holds very true.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Blah,blah, blah, the same old crap about the terms. I prefer purebred when talking about 'open pollinated'. After all it is the opposite of hybrid. Purebred, hybrid and mutts (landrace mixes) are the 3 types of seed.

I have spent $300 on seeds alone this year, not including onion plants and seed potatoes. I have a half acre market garden. I do save some of my own seed. I don't like running out of seed half way through the season and having to place another order.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

Bumble, it was my fault, my apologies my friend! Any moment I have to learn I'm going to take it! I'm sorry... Throw me off the plank next time!

Hijacker,
Joe


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

No apologies or planks necessary, folks! Seriously. I enjoy a good debate just as much as the next person and this HAS been entertaining. I just wish I could take credit for it!

But please don't take Glib's comments as gospel. There is more to CT than stonewalls and gated estates - we have country clubs and prep schools too! Lol.

Have a great day everyone!


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

And it has the origin of Lyme disease, too! ;) My grandparents were in Groton, we lived in upstate NY, so I got to see many different parts of Connecticut on our drives there. There is the part glib describes and there is the part that evolved out of the mill towns, and there is the part that is still rural and quaint, and then there is Hartford. A varied land, for such a small state!

I actually came back to this thread to see how the complex subject of plant breeding and seed saving was coming, forgot all about the original question, lol.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I think that gardeners as a group are hopeful and some of us are delusional. I am glad that I am nowhere near that store. I would get up to the register and be absolutely shocked at the total. I prefer online where my cart has my total so I can try to make better decisions. I do not save seed yet as I am trying focus more on the growing.

Some of the things that have influenced my seed purchasing of so many varieties is an effort to find what I like best and what works best in my climate. I admit too, I can be swayed by novelty. Blue pumpkins? Sign me up. Also reminds me I need to find some cheddar cauliflower seeds (15 yo son loves it). The other thing is it is a cheap thrill. I do not like to buy a lot of cheap plastic stuff, I would much rather buy some cool seeds.

All that being said, I probably spent about $65 at Baker Creek this year. I appreciate their shipping charge. I could have easily spent more but I do know there are any so many spaces for tomatoes. I may place an order with Territorial (although I like their prices less) for some fall/overwintering cauliflower and some herb plants that I have trouble sourcing locally, but those are a one time deal. I may pick up a few seed packets locally that are Botanical Interests. I consider them somewhat regional as they are based in Colorado. Or, there may be a few needs/wants at Gourmet Seed which are based in NM. Potatoes may not be on the agenda this year and I am on the fence about more garlic, it will depend on this year's harvest. I may pick up a few plants too from a local greenhouse but that will not be a big part of my expenditure (at least not on veggies, ornamentals are a different matter entirely).


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

I have 1500 sq feet of space, not counting paths.
I buy on line almost all from morgan county seeds
Except a little aisian type seeds from other on line web sites.
I spend about $25 a year on most years. but every 3-4 years I spend About $80.
I buy in ounces for the small seeds and in 1-5 pound bags for the larger seeds.
Very few items I buy in pks and those are usually things I want to try , but know I can easily save seed from.
It takes a surprising amount of seed to get 3 crops from some of the vegetables. I find the one I have the most trouble Saving the seeds from for more than three years is peppers, even when I freeze the seed. And I have yet to get my own saved seeds for peppers to germinate. Of course I'll try again this year.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

On the subject of Seed saving, in case you didn't know there are a number of good how-to FAQs available over on the Seed Saving forum.

Dave

PS: including one on how to save pepper seeds :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Seed Saving forum FAQs


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

So very true, Sunnibel7! I had Lyme a few years back, definitely not fun.

Thanks for the link, Dave. All this talk about seed saving has me intrigued. Maybe I'll give it a go this year, see what happens. Heading over to the SS forum to check things out.


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RE: Quantity/Cost/Type of seeds?

  • Posted by uncle_t Z6 Ontario CAN (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 22:56

Definition of Open Wallet-nated: 1) the capricious transfer of hard-earned money from your wallet to a trendy seed company, based on the ideal that any organic stigma beats a conventional dogma. 2) The ability to spend $150 on trendy seeds, while satisfied with a not-so-trendy harvest of lesser value.

source: Uncle_t's newly unfounded glossary of skeptical botany.

;)


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